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7 Idea Journals & A Writer’s Notebook in the Cloud(s)

7 Idea Journals & A Writer’s Notebook in the Cloud(s)

As some of you may know, my husband and I moved in mid-August from Minneapolis to Maryland. Due to a miscommunication/blatant error, the moving company didn’t deliver our belongings for nearly two weeks, in which time we slept on an air mattress and sat on camp chairs and ate everything out of the same two bowls.

Now that our stuff is finally here, we’ve been busy unpacking. It’s a ton of work, but setting up a new apartment gives me a nice sense of control over my life. Plus, I enjoy going through my stuff and organizing it. I always think that this time I’ll come up with the perfect strategy to keep all of my things neat and easily accessible. For example, right now I’m storing all of my tissue paper, collage material, and random doo-dads in an old suitcase in my room. I’ll let you know later how this organization tactic goes.

Some of the many empty boxes from our move.

Some of the many empty boxes from our move.

The other day, while unpacking my desk things, I found not one, not two, but seven different journals that I had, at one point or another, tried to use as writing notebooks. They contained an assortment of the following:
1. book recommendations
2. books I have read
3. movies to watch
4. ideas for stories and novels
5. funny things I overheard people say
6. bits of poetry and other muse-inspired snippets that drifted into my head
7. notes and writing exercises from various writers conferences
8. names of wines I like
9. character descriptions
10. recipes
11. addresses and directions
12. to-do lists
13. passwords
14. websites and blogs to check out
15. doodles
16. dreams I had
17. things I heard on a podcast that I thought could be used for a poem
18. bits of math from my job as a math curriculum writer
19. character names and baby names
20. random reminders to myself that now make no sense

Plus a whole lot of blank pages, because it seems I would always lose these notebooks and/or abandon them before filling them up. Probably because the notebook never seemed to be around when I had an idea, or the notebook wouldn’t be around when I needed something I’d written down in there.  It goes back to the whole organization thing: my writer’s notebook needs to be neat and easily accessible.

What my notebooks end up looking like -- messy and filled with doodles.

What my notebooks end up looking like — messy and filled with doodles.

The other problem is that there’s just so much I want to keep track of. I tried to organize my most recent notebook with four tabs — books to read, books I’ve read, notes, and story ideas. But, inevitably, I ended up writing stuff in the wrong section and then losing the notebook for a while and then getting annoyed because the notebook became so messy and disorganized. It’s hard enough to organize your physical belongings in a new apartment. It’s even harder to organize your thoughts.

What I’ve finally come to accept is that I need technology. As romantic as the notion of a writer’s notebook is (and as pretty as some of mine are), they obviously aren’t working for me. After all, I may not always have a notebook handy, but chances are, wherever I am when I have an idea, I will be near my phone or computer. And if not, I can scrawl the idea on a napkin and transfer it to my computer later.

I started using Goodreads a few months ago as a way to remember books I have read and want to read. That’s working pretty well so far.  (I just wish that Goodreads would also include movies.) So now, how do I keep track of everything else? I need to keep my lists and notes and ideas in one easy-to-access place.

I perused the Internet for a solution and found some interesting-looking apps such as Notecards and Evernote. But I think, for now, I’m just going to use the “Notes” app already on my iphone and try to sync that to my computer somehow. I think it’s possible using “iCloud,” but I need to do more research on this. Once I’ve got everything set up, I’ll transfer all of my old notes and lists and ramblings from the seven different notebooks into this one (hopefully simple) application.

This is it, people! This time I really have come up with a strategy that will keep all my notes and ideas in one neat and easily accessible place — in “the cloud”! Already I feel a new sense of control over my writing life. Now the only question left is, what did I do with my phone?

All of my old writing notebooks.

All of my old writing notebooks.  And, accidentally, my foot.


About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

2 responses »

  1. My husband, who is a very organized person, absolutely swears by Evernote. I, on the other hand, use the millions of half-finished notebooks method (mostly because I like buying cute notebooks).

  2. I use both, but finding a notebook to fit into my pocket for work means I just make my own small notebooks that last a few weeks. I have loads of them and keep meaning to get around to typing up bits of writings in them but just have not got very far. Evernote is great for my hoarding self. At least with notebooks, I find it difficult to loose them, my phone on the other hand, it rarely stays in the same place.


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